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What Currency is Used in the Bahamas?

Susan Laurent
Last Updated on
by Susan Laurent

The official currency used in The Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar. Here’s the lowdown:

  • The Bahamian dollar has been the official currency since 1966
  • One Bahamian dollar is pegged to one US dollar
  • Its code is BSD, and you’ll often see it symbolized as $ or B$
  • The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBB) is the authority in charge of issuing it
  • You’ll find banknotes in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100
  • Minor units include 1, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 50 cents

Bahamian banknotes and coins are as creative as the spirit of The Bahamas itself. There’s good coverage of banks and ATMs all around the islands, and cards and digital currency are widely adopted.

And, yes, you read that right: The Bahamas have their own digital money!

Bahamian Currency 101

Bahamian dollars

In The Bahamas, people use the Bahamian dollar as their currency. It’s like their version of the US dollar, even though they’re not part of the US!

You’ll often see it symbolized as $ or B$, and its code is BSD. The Central Bank of The Bahamas is the currency’s caretaker.

Just like what you might be used to, the Bahamian dollar comes in coins and paper bills. The coins have different values, like 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, and 1 and 2 dollar coins. As for paper bills, you can find them in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars.

Are There ATMs and Banks in The Bahamas?

ATMs are easily accessible throughout the major Bahamian islands in banks, shopping centers, hotel chains, and stores. The Out Islands may have few or no ATMs, and those that do exist may run out of cash during weekends or holidays — so it’s smart to carry enough cash.

Banking hours are normally 9 or 9:30 AM to 3 or 4 PM Monday through Thursday and 9 AM to 5 PM on Friday. However, the working hours on the Out Islands may be much shorter, so make sure you withdraw money during working hours.

Can I Pay With a Credit Card in The Bahamas?

Debit and credit cards are accepted, some of the main ones being Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. You can pay using your credit card at hotels, restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions.

Still, it’s smart to carry some cash, including both Bahamian and US dollars, as smaller or more remote spots may prefer cash payments. It’s also a good idea to give your bank or credit card company a heads-up about your travel plans to ensure they don’t flag your card activity while you’re on vacation as suspicious.

Does The Bahamas Accept US Dollars?

Yes, the Bahamas accepts US dollars. Whether you’re dining at restaurants, shopping for souvenirs, or exploring tourist hotspots, you’ll find that US dollars are widely accepted across the islands.

Since they are equivalent, you might get change in Bahamian dollars or a combination of both currencies when you pay for something. While US dollars are accepted, it’s still good practice to have some Bahamian dollars for small purchases — just in case.

Digital Currencies

The Bahamas made history in October 2020 when they introduced their very own digital currency, the Bahamian Sand Dollar (BSD), under the leadership of the Central Bank of The Bahamas.

This digital currency works alongside physical Bahamian dollars. To use it, you’ll need a digital wallet, which is like a digital account for storing and managing your Sand Dollars. These digital wallets can be accessed through mobile apps or online platforms.

Sand Dollars are a recent addition, so they aren’t as widespread as other payment methods across the islands. So, if you plan to pay for your vacation with this digital currency, it’s a good idea to check with your Bahamian hotel (and other businesses along the way) to see if they accept digital BSD.

Fun Facts

The Similarities between Bahamian dollars and US dollars

The Similarities Between the Bahamian Dollar and the US Dollar

The conversion on the islands is identical to that of the United States. BSD relates to the US dollar one-to-one — so both currencies are essentially equivalent.

Now, you might wonder why this similarity, especially when The Bahamas isn’t part of the US. Well, it goes back to the islands’ history.

The island country used to be a British colony but forged strong trade and economic ties with the US after gaining independence. This connection made it practical to adopt a currency that’s easy for both locals and the millions of American tourists who visit.

In fact, around 80% of the 7 million annual visitors to The Bahamas come from the United States, so it makes sense for the country to use the US dollar and spare the tourists its economy relies on from the hassle of currency exchange.

The Evolution of Bahamian Currency

Over the years, The Bahamas has undergone a fascinating evolution in its currency. Here’s a rundown of all the crucial moments:

  • 1825: The British pound was used as the official currency since it was initially a British colony
  • 1966: The Bahamian pound was introduced, marking the country’s first step towards independence
  • 1966: The Central Bank of The Bahamas was established to manage the new currency
  • 1966-1967: This period marked the transition from the Bahamian pound to the Bahamian dollar, with an exchange rate of 7 Bahamian dollars to 1 pound
  • 1966: The first Bahamian banknotes and coins were issued in 1966
  • 1974: The Bahamas gained independence, and the Bahamian dollar remained the official currency
  • 1984: New designs of Bahamian banknotes
  • 2001: The Bahamian dollar was pegged to the US dollar in 2001, at a 1:1 ratio
  • 2016: Updated designs of Bahamian banknotes

The Vibrant Aesthetics of Bahamian Currency

Bahamian Banknotes

Until 1992, The Bahamas’ currency was all about Queen Elizabeth II, but today, they’ve made way for several new faces, including:

Bahamian Coins

Bahamian coins display the Bahamian coat of arms on one side — but flip them over, and you’ll find some special features, including:

  • The 1-cent coin has three starfish
  • The 5-cent coin features the tropical pineapple
  • A 10-cent coin is scalloped and features two bonefish swimming
  • The 15-cent coin is square and decorated with three hibiscus flowers
  • The 25-cent coin is serrated and displays a native sloop boat
  • The 50-cent coin has a magnificent blue marlin
  • The 1 dollar coin showcases a conch shell
  • The 2 dollar coin features two elegant flamingos

To Sum Up

The Bahamas use the Bahamian dollar (BSD), but US dollars are widely accepted, especially in major areas like Nassau, which is pretty convenient for American tourists. And don’t worry about cash — ATMs and banks are easy to find on the main islands.

The Bahamas has embraced the future of currency too. They have their own digital currency — The Bahamian Sand Dollar.

About Susan Laurent
Susan Laurent
I'm passionate about world cultures, travel, and discovering amazing new places. I've spent years traveling the globe, very often alone, so I focus on providing important information about travel safety to travelers that I've gathered from first-hand experience.
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